Michigan to start Devin Gardner

ByDan Murphy ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Michigancoach Brady Hoke, who moved Devin Gardnerback into the starting quarterback role Wednesday, said he takes responsibility for communication issues that allowed Shane Morristo return to the field on Saturday after he showed symptoms of a concussion.

Hoke, however, reiterated that it's not his decision to determine when players are healthy enough to play. He declined to clear up any discrepancies between his account of the weekend's events and a statement released by athletic director Dave Brandon at 1 a.m. Tuesday.

"When you're a leader you have to take responsibility," Hoke said. "I take responsibility for our student-athletes, and I take it for their health and welfare."

Gardner, a redshirt senior, will start at quarterback against Rutgers on Saturday night. He had started 16 consecutive regular-season games before last week.

Morris, who suffered a high ankle sprain in addition to the head injury Saturday, wasn't listed by Hoke as an option for the Rutgers game.

Hoke and his players are the only members of the Michigan athletic department to date who have fielded questions about what Brandon called a "serious lack of communication" in a written statement. Hoke said he still has a strong relationship with his boss and that he isn't bothered by the statement.

"This is a big family, this university is. That's the way we look at it," Hoke said. "The statement itself is what we stand by."

Hoke declined to comment on whether he thought the mistakes admitted by the athletic department were worthy of a punishment. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany spoke to members of the athletic department Tuesday, but the league won't be handing out any penalties for breaking a conferencewide concussion policy, a spokesman said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), the co-founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, wrote a letter to Delany on Tuesday asking him to investigate Michigan's actions.

Brandon and the university's president, Mark Schlissel, both promised to revise the program's procedures for dealing with injured players, especially head injuries, during games. Michigan plans to keep a member of its training staff in the press box at future games to help coaches and trainers on the sideline communicate better.

Hoke said he doesn't plan to wear a headset in the future to facilitate that process. He is one of the few head coaches in college football who doesn't wear one regularly.

"That's something I've explained a lot. It allows me to coach guys on the sideline," Hoke said. "I've got a guy right behind me who is telling me everything that I need to know. I think it helps when you want to be hands-on."

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